Topics: The Revenger's Tragedy, Thomas Middleton, Revenge Tragedy genre Pages: 7 (2769 words) Published: October 13, 2005

While not everyone will immediately admit it, revenge is sweet. Something from within seems to deem the concept of getting even acceptable, maybe even necessary. While this holds true in many cases, sometimes revenge can be taken to an evil extreme. In Medea, a play written by Euripides, a tragic revenge story unfolds. Throughout this play, Medea, the main character, seeks vengeance on everyone she believes has wronged her. She holds back nothing to ensure she will not be looked upon as weak, no matter the cost. Throughout the course of the play, Euripides portrays Medea in a way that does not elicit much sympathy because of the methods she employs to get revenge. In seeking to enact the ultimate revenge, Medea behaves in a way that is usually considered inappropriate. She employs tactics that are very feminine in nature combined with blatantly masculine actions. One of the feminine skills she employs is manipulation of emotions. Medea portrays herself to the king, Creon, as vulnerable in an attempt to be granted a one day reprieve before being banished from Corinth. During this time period, women were associated with vulnerability because of their low position in society, and the powerless role they held. This one day hiatus proves fatal for Creon, the one who granted it, and allows her to implement her evil plan. Another way Medea seeks to settle the score is through the deception of both her children and husband by pretending to be a good, caring mother. Her husband, Jason, is duped into believing that she is worried about the sake of her children, so he assures her that they will be watched over. Adopting the role of a concerned mother allows Medea to take the focus off her real intentions, to seek vengeance with Jason. She leads her children to believe that they will be delivering gifts to a princess, when in reality they are bearing a poison-laden death trap. She insists they, "Kneel down and beg your father's new wife, and my mistress, so that you may not be banished. And above all else, see that she receives my present into her own hands. Go quickly; be successful, and bring good news back." (971-974) These so called gifts result in the deaths of both Jason's fiancée, and her father Creon. Probably the most womanly behavior embodied by Medea would be the actions associated with witchcraft she used to accomplish her mission. The poison employed by Medea did not just cause the victims to die, but to burst into flames as if being struck by lightning: "The golden coronet round her head discharged a stream of unnatural devouring fire: while the fine dress your children gave her – poor miserable girl! – the stuff was eating her flesh." (1186-1189) This certainly was no ordinary poison and gives the suggestion of possible witchcraft. Possessing the knowledge of poisons, in addition to having a dragon pulled chariot, gives the impression that there is some influence of witchcraft, a predominantly female occupation. While many of Medea's actions are feminine, a few were overtly masculine. For instance, Medea takes extreme measures to assure that she is in control of everything. Positions of power and authority were almost exclusively held by men at the time, so it is clear why the typical person in Medea's day would have associated the notion of control with men. Even when retaining her sense of control requires deadly measures on her own blood, she is not dissuaded. To ensure that her children would not be killed by the ruling powers of Corinth, she deems it necessary to take their lives herself: "To kill the children and then fly from Corinth; not delay and so consign them to another hand to murder with a better will. For they must die, in any case; and since they must, then I who gave them birth will kill them." (1236-1240) Medea's behavior throughout the play was very prideful. It holds true even to this day, that men are typically more prideful than women, and commonly take that...
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